I officiated a wedding this week, and it was a wonderful, joyous occasion—as a Christian wedding should be. A man and a woman united in holy matrimony. But what is marriage, this marvelous joining of two lives? It is a remarkable union, and it has a remarkable message.
Marriage is the key and foundational relationship in human life. It is not God’s design for everyone—and those God has designed for singleness have a special gift, and a special honor. But God’s normative design for man and woman is marriage, and out of this union (normatively) emerges the family. We see this design expressed in the beginning.
When God created the world and all the creatures that inhabit it, He made mankind as the pinnacle of His creation, creatures distinct from all other creatures—creatures made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). And when He created the first man, we read that “the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (Gen. 2:18, ESV). None of the other creatures were fit for that role (vv.19-20), so God created woman from out of man (vv.21-22). Man and woman are the same and also different: equally human, equally made in the image of God, equally possessed of all the dignity that implies, yet different from one another.
There are some differences that make it hard for things to fit together. But man and woman are made for each other; man and woman are complementary. In marriage, these two, different and complementary, are united—the two become one.
Husband and wife enter into a life-long covenant union, forged in love, bound by promise, and blessed by God Almighty. That is the wonder and splendor of marriage.
The spiritual message of this union is that it is a picture of the union with God for which mankind is created, which we have lost in the fall, for which we long, and which the Christian finds in the gospel, by faith in Jesus Christ, for the church is the bride of Christ.
And so this union of marriage is a holy parable of the divine design. Every Christian marriage, grounded in the love of God, strengthened by the gospel of Jesus Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, is to be a testimony to God’s creative power and redeeming work.